What Is Chronic Back Pain?



What Is Chronic Back Pain?



Back pain can be described in many ways. Acute, chronic, sub-acute, intermittent, chronic intermittent, etc. etc. This article will help to clear up any confusion as to what is chronic back pain, and how to differentiate it from other types of back pain.

All the terms above are basically used to determine the time frame of the condition. Although there are many different causes of back pain, terms such as chronic or acute can be applied to better describe how long the spinal condition has been a problem. Whilst this may seem simplified, the time frame becomes important when determining the best course of treatment.


Acute Versus Chronic Back Pain

Back PainProbably the most common question that arises is the difference between acute and chronic pain.

Generally speaking, acute injuries have sudden or rapid onset. This could be the result of a fall or accident, or when your back suddenly 'goes out' form something as simple as bending forwards to pick up something. The pain is usually quite intense with an episode of acute back pain.

Chronic back pain is generally considered to be pain that has persisted for longer than 3 months. This can be a progression from an episode of acute back pain that has not settled, or as a slow onset of back pain over time.  About 20 percent of people affected by acute low back pain develop chronic low back pain with persistent symptoms after one year. (Subacute low back pain is defined as pain that lasts between 4 and 12 weeks).


The nature of chronic back pain is variable. It is usually less severe than acute back pain, but can vary in intensity from day to day. It may be severe, or may not cause any pain at all. The character of the pain can change as well. It may be a sharp, stabbing or burning pain, but more commonly chronic back pain is felt as a dull ache (like tooth ache).

Although rare, chronic back pain can be a sign of a serious illness. To find out more, click here.


Treating Chronic Back Pain

 The correct treatment protocol for chronic back pain depends on the underlying cause. Regardless of the spinal condition, all forms of mechanical back pain are the end result of repeated, abnormal spinal movements that strain the muscles, discs, and joints, causing tissue damage.

Medications are targeted towards numbing pain, or reducing inflammation (inflammation is a key component in all back pain, read more here). Whilst this may provide temporary relief, it does not actually correct the problem.

It is the same story with surgery, which should only be performed in extreme cases of back pain where all other treatment avenues have been exhausted. 

For the fastest ways to naturally relieve the discomfort of back pain, click here. These methods a very effective, but cannot address what is often years of underlying spinal dysfunction.

The key to effectively treating chronic back pain is to get a proper diagnosis of the cause. A lot of the time this may be due to spinal misalignment or a muscle imbalance, both of which can be quickly treated using natural methods.


By understanding what is chronic back pain, and how it differs from acute back pain, you can take the appropriate course of action. Realising that the pain is just a sign of an underlying problem, you should seek a health professionals advise so that you can be sure you are treating the problem correctly.


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.



  1. Thanks for a great article. I’ve had sciatica since I was pregnant with my first child, so that is now going on to over 5 years. The pain varies, sometimes it is mild and at other times it gets quite painful.

    Any advice to help with this? I don’t take any medications partly because I don’t believe in treating the symptoms will help long term and also because I am a recovering drug addict. All the good meds that work I just can’t take!

  2. All though I personally dont suffer from backaches, My grandmother does.
    According to what you say here, the pain is a chronic one, as it has been going on for quite some time.

    The thing is that in her case the treatment is a shot in a specific point in the back, and every time the pain comes back, the shot is re-administered. I guess this means that its not really treatable.

    I was wondering if you have any good places to read about this?


    • Hi Ido,

      If she is receiving injections then most likely it would be cortisone (steroid) injections. These are used as a very powerful anti-inflammatory drug. However if the cause of the inflammation hasn’t been fixed, then it just keeps coming back. This is extremely common. There are also some pretty nasty side effects from prolonged use of steroids.

      Have a look at this post on inflammation, it may help you out.


      All the best,

      Dr Brad

  3. Very informative article on what is chronic back pain. I totally agree that getting the correct diagnosis is very important. only then can the correct treatment be given. Knowing if your back pain is a long term or quick fix is vital as back pain limits our movements.

    • You are spot on Paul. Once you know what the underlying cause of your back pain is, then you could get the right treatment.

      All the best,

      Dr Brad

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